By Tyler Vuxta ’13
Much like many of you, I was involved in a little bit of everything at William and Mary. I joined too many clubs, spent too many late nights and dollars at the Delis, and made lifelong friends along the way. As much as I enjoyed my experience at the College, I largely expected that I’d largely leave it behind me after graduation. Now that I’m a few years in, I can appreciate three major themes to how my college connections continue to influence me into my 30’s:
1) Maintaining remote connections: much as I hoped to avoid it, I suspected I may drift apart from connections as life took me away from the state of Virginia. Fortunately, my collegiate circle is much better at keeping in touch than I have ever been, and I’ve maintained close connections 8 years on! Beyond the joys of friendship alone, this has been invaluable as a resource to get a non-biased perspective on my day-to-day trials and tribulations. Additionally, I’ve been welcomed for overnight stays in many guest bedrooms around the country!
2) Integrating into Charlotte: the Alumni chapter was an excellent resource to help get me started with friends in Charlotte. One of my favorite aspects was the instant camaraderie I felt with people who had vastly different life experiences. I met one Class of 1968 alum at a Yule Log celebration; after bonding over a mutual love of craft beer and similar political interests, we have had monthly dinners at each other’s homes for years! William and Mary has created friendships and connections for me that I can’t imagine I would have made any other way.
3) W&M on the road: I always pack William and Mary clothing when I travel, as it amazes me how far the brand persists and how wide our alumni spread. My favorite and most random anecdote on this is from a trip to Kyrgyzstan. I was visiting a roommate from undergrad and exploring the country, traveling with two other school friends (see point 1 above!). We had a planned rendezvous with two other W&M alumna who were in the country teaching English. While the six of us were on a hike to a remote destination, we happened upon yet another W&M grad who was a college professor there – the seven of us may be the largest unofficial delegation of W&M alums ever in the country!
I don’t have any broad takeaways beyond the thanking all of you for the experience and network you’ve helped to shape for myself and others. The College wouldn’t be what it is without the community surrounding it, and in an era where social connection is at a premium amidst the pandemic, I’d encourage anyone to take the first step and rejuvenate connections they fostered at W&M and/or to find the alumni community in your new hometowns. Even if you’re far flung from the William and Mary orbit geographically, you will be surprised by how far your fellow alumni are willing to go if there’s a friendly face waiting when they arrive.
Thanks for the experiences and looking forward to many more future Tribe connections,